Just 90-minutes from Sydney on the picturesque Bouddi Peninsula is Bells at Killcare, a boutique resort on the Central Coast. With just 25 cottages set amongst eight acres of landscaped and established gardens, this is a most beautiful and relaxing adults-only retreat.
Bells is owned and managed by Brian and Karina Barry who have had many years in the hospitality industry. Karina used to work at Rockpool and then for 16 years Brian and Karina were managing the Hunter Valley Resort. They purchased Bells eight years ago and have totally transformed the resort with many more plans for the future.
There are many ways to get to Bells and some great options. Obviously you can drive and Bells provides parking for all guests. Alternatively, there is a helipad so you can land in your own helicopter. If you don’t have a helicopter, an increasingly popular way to travel is to hop on a sea plane at Rose Bay and fly over Sydney Harbour and up the Northern Beaches to Hardys Bay where Kane, the resort’s chauffeur will meet you and drive you the few kilometres to the resort. Packages are available that include travel and dinner or travel, dinner and accommodation. If you’re on a bit more of a budget you might like to do what Carl and I did and catch the ferry to Wagstaff where Kane will meet you and the ferry ride will only cost around $10/person.
Parking at Palm Beach isn’t too much of an issue and so with that accomplished we walked the short distance to the wharf. However, we were told the ferry we were expecting was filling with water and if we’d prefer not to have a Titanic experience, we would have to wait for another ferry. But then a good Samaritan turned up, the water taxi guy and he said he would take passengers to Wagstaff for $10/person. Bargain! With its 300HP engine we certainly made up for lost time but as I was hanging on for dear life I was unable to take any scenic photos and this is a very scenic part of the world. When Kane met us at the other end I was looking similar to Bridget Jones after her ride in the convertible.
The check-in process is smooth and relaxed with the staff being well-groomed, polite and friendly. It’s so nice to be met with a smile! There’s no repetitive questions like, ‘So how’s your day been so far?’ either. What a relief! Kane drove us down to our cottage which was near the pond and situated in a very quiet and serene part of the resort.
The cottages are free-standing and well separated from each other with gardens and fencing strategically postitioned to allow for privacy and tranquility. We walked up a few steps to an undercover verandah then turned into the ground floor of the cottage. The presentation is extremely clean and fresh in seascape colours of blue and neutral tones. The lounge room was spacious with a gas fire and we very nearly needed to get it going as it was the last day of Spring and not warm at all.
The cottage also had a kitchenette with a welcoming bottle of chilled Prosecco and a spacious powder room.
Upstairs the master bedroom had a king-sized bed that was one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on. Karina told me they have had many clients who once having slept on their beds, then order them for their bedroom at home.
The bedroom is spacious with plenty of room to walk around and the room flows onto an outdoor sitting room that for us, captured the afternoon sunshine.
The bathroom is also generously proportioned with an enormous free-standing bath. Bath salts are provided and these are made in the day spa with many of the ingredients coming from organic plants on the property, like lavender and rosemary.
The day spa makes all the spa products for the cottages so most things you need including shampoo, conditioner and body wash are provided in the bathrooms in large-sized bottles. A great relief is that the lighting in the bathroom is good so there’s no issue with doing your make-up.
After we unpacked we went for a stroll around the grounds. It’s a good idea to bring with you some good walking shoes as the resort is quite spread out and some of the paths are gravel. The resort has lots of water features and I do love the look of fountains and the sound of trickling water.
At the bottom of the property is a large pond where we saw lots of ducks and their ducklings waddling about or swimming. On a neighbouring property there are sheep baaing so although you’re only an hour or so from Sydney, you really do feel that you left the city a long, long way behind you.
Walking through the main building at Bells, there is a sitting room where you can enjoy a quiet drink or sit and read a book.
There’s a private dining room with a magnificent ship along the back wall. Karina told me the story of how the ship came to be at Bells. Years ago, Alan Bond commissioned the building of the replica of the Endeavour, the ship Captain Cook sailed from England when he discovered Australia. Alan Bond ended up not being able to complete the building of the replica of the Endeavour due to financial difficulties so it looked like the project would be aborted. However, realising how significant the Endeavour is to Australia’s history, John Singleton, Brian and Karina’s friend and very supportive landlord, donated the money that was needed to finish the project. The people involved were so grateful, they gave this ship to Singleton as a thank you. And so here it sits in the private dining room at Bells. It’s a stunning work of art and an impressive feature in the room.
The main dining room flows onto a covered verandah with outdoor seating that leads to an expansive lawn with a water feature at the far end. On the afternoon we arrived there was a wedding ceremony taking place on the lawn and then as the wedding party moved to the function room for their reception, I photographed the bride in her stunning gown that fitted her so perfectly. She had a full veil for the ceremony but removed it for the reception.
There’s more to do at Bells Killcare than just sit by the pool or relax by the fire in the lounge room. If you’d like more activity than lying by the pool, Bells will pack you up a picnic and you can bush walk to some of the beaches in the national park. These beaches are very unspoilt and totally crowd-free.
Guests don’t just stay at Bells for the peace, serenity, tranquility and national park beaches, but also for the renowned and award-winning restaurant. Bells Restaurant is run by Stefano Manfredi, a chef with over 3o-years of service to Australian hospitality. In my next post I’ll bring you our dining experience.
We had an incredibly relaxing and serene experience at Bells that was decidedly therapeutic. It’s a great place for couples to go for a romantic getaway and also to de-stress. Being so close to Sydney makes this the perfect getaway.
Verdict: I didn’t want to leave.
Bells at Killcare: 107 The Scenic Road, Killcare Heights NSW 2257
Ph: 61 2 4349 7000
Hotly Spiced and crew stayed at Bells Killcare as guests of Brian and Karina Barry.
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